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India Nexpress
02 February 2011
By Manoj More

557 intra–uterine deaths also reported in these hospitals; doctors demand facilities to prevent deaths
377 babies died in Sassoon, YCM Hospital NICUs in Year
AS many as 934 babies died at the government–run Sassoon Hospital and civic–run YCM Hospital last year. Of these, 557 were intra–uterine deaths (IUD), meaning deaths before birth and after seven months of pregnancy.

An RTI application moved by Newsline also revealed that 377 babies died in the neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) of both hospitals last year.

Of the 6,369 babies born at Sassoon last year, 5,897 survived. The hospital recorded 314 IUD deaths while 158 babies died within a month of their birth in its NICU. At YCM hospital, 5,730 babies were born, 243 IUDs recorded while 219 babies died in the NICU.

The major causes of deaths of babies in NICUs were respiratory distress syndrome, sepsis, asphyxia and congenital diseases. The IUDs are attributed to accidents, poor followups by pregnant women, poor nutrition, injuries caused by beating or complications.

While doctors said intra–uterine deaths can be reduced with good perinatal care, they pointed out that the NICU deaths were preventable provided the hospitals put in place a well–equipped NICU. "A wellequipped NICU can save hundreds of lives," said M S Swaminathan, gynaecol ogist at a private hospital.

377 babies died in Sassoon, YCM Hospital NICUs in Year
Doctors at Sassoon Hospital said shortage of ventilators in NICU, life saving drug surfactant and costly antibiotics were affecting the survival rate of babies. "We need more ventilators in NICU and surfactant drug that improves lung functioning," said Dr Pradip Sambrey, head of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Sassoon. They said babies were sent to private hospitals owing to shortage of ventilators.

"After operation, a baby immediately requires ventilator. If there is no ventilator support, a baby dies in no time," said Dr Umesh Vaidya, head of NICU unit at KEM Hospital. He said the survival rate of babies at KEM Hospital was high because of a well–equipped NICU.
"We have as many as 10 ventilators."

Dr Sambrey said surfactant and higher antibiotics were costly and beyond the reach of poor patients. "Sassoon has a limited budget. We cannot provide surfactant and higher antibiotics to each and every patient."

Dr Sambrey said UIDs could be prevented but because of poor followups, pregnant women suffer. He, however, said things would change in two months.

Sassoon dean Dr Renu Bharadwaj said she needed time to investigate the matter. "But, I will initiate corrective action so that we could save many babies."

While doctors said the YCMH NICU needed ventilators, YCMH superintendent Dr Anand Jagdale said there were enough ventilators. PCMC medical chief Dr Nagkumar Kunachgi said fund shortage was a problem for upgrading the NICU infrastructure. Municipal Commissioner Asheesh Sharma said funds would not be a problem. "If babies have to be saved, fund shortage will not come in the way. I will see what we could do to save the babies."

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